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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

But I'm a Good Person!

How often have I heard this an other defenses of the Mormon church! "But I'm a good person/we're good people!" "But we have high standards." "But we have good family values."

And I say...so what?

Being a good person or teaching high standards and being family focused are good things of course...but they do not make something true, nor do they provide a good excuse to keep following something untrue.

For instance, the argument that "we're good people." First of all, not all people within a religion or worldview are good. I've known two active Mormons who were unrepentant rapists. While some religions may be better and some worse in things like this, there are bad people in all religions and worldviews--whether their belief is necessarily sincere or not is another question. I know that at least one of those rapists sincerely believed in the Mormon religion. Second, there are good people in the majority of religions and worldviews. Mormon, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Wiccan, and so forth--it doesn't matter. There are good and bad people in pretty much all of them.

Second, good is a relative term. If we're talking about good on the world's standards, sure, many Mormons are good. Many people in general are good on that standard. But what about God's standards? Are people good on God's standards? Let's consider this. Have you lied? Lusted after someone not your spouse? Stolen? Used God's or Jesus' name(s) as a cuss word (blasphemed)? Coveted? Disobeyed your parents? If you're honest, you probably have to say yes to most of these, and most of us would probably have to say yes to all of them. This means that in God's eyes, you are not good.

Romans 3:12 All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone."

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God


Having high standard is good, but does not prove a religion right or true. You could say Muslims have high standards--but does that make it true? Does it change that their violence and extreme sexism is wrong? Not at all. Sometimes, high standards go overboard into legalism, and Mormons fall into this category, creating guilt for those who fail to meet the standards (even if they're a good person focused on God) and pride for those who meet the standards (even if they're self-righteous pricks more concerned about themselves than God). You can get good standards from many different world views. Even atheists can have pretty high standards--many are humanists.



Family values are also good, but again doesn't prove a religion right or true. In fact, Mormons take family to the level of idolatry. Eternal family, family values, and family focus are taken to such a high level of teaching and focus that it is often put over God in their daily lives. Family is is most certainly something people should focus on--a Christian is certainly admonished to raise their children right. But it should never be put above God.



So, when all is said and done...yes, maybe that's true. But does that make your religion right, or does it mean you should stay it in if its not right? Definitely not.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jesus Didn't Follow the Word of Wisdom

Jesus drank alcohol. No, really. He did.


Some will say that the wine of that time was just grape juice, but that's not precisely true. First, I'm pretty sure they could tell the difference between fermented and non-fermented drink. They did not have refrigeration like we do, so drink would ferment fairly quickly if it was not drank right away. While its likely that they didn't always let it ferment as long as we sometimes do for wine now (e.g. a few years), there still would have often been at least a little fermentation, and therefore a little alcoholic content. We also know from the Bible that people did get drunk off of the wine, obviously an indication of alcoholic content.

Genesis 9:21
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
 Leviticus 10:9
Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
(Note this is not a prohibition against alcohol at all times, but specifically for going into the tabernacle.)



1 Samuel 1:14
And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
 Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Luke 5:39
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
(Older is more fermented and often better, as a connoisseur will tell you.)


 There are also plenty of accounts of Jesus eating and drinking with sinners. In fact, his first miracle was to make good wine for a wedding!

Luke 5:30
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 7:34
The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

John 2:10
And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (After Jesus turned water to wine for his first miracle at a wedding feast.)


Now, the Bible most certainly speaks against drunkenness, and its easy to consider why when you hear of (and probably personally know) people who cheat only when drunk, or who harm themselves or others when drunk, who make stupid decision they wouldn't otherwise make, or who become addicted to it.  None of those things are what a person of God should be doing with themselves.

But drinking not to get drunk? Well, yes, the Bible does allow for that, most certainly...it just said not to have excess, or too much.


Ephesians 5:18
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
1 Timothy 3:8

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
 Titus 2:3
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.





However, as Christians we must be conscious of when we drink and with whom, as well as how much.


Romans 14:21

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Notice this verse does not prohibit drinking wine anymore than it prohibits eating meat or anything else--it just says not to do it if it will make someone else fall. So if you're with someone who is an alcoholic, current or recovered, It is probably not a good idea or good example to drink in front of them or especially to offer them a drink. A person like that should not be drinking because they do so sinfully. Does that mean we have to lie to them about the fact that we might be okay drinking occasionally? No, lying is a sin. But we should not tempt those who shouldn't drink or put a stumbling block in front of those who are uncomfortable with it, even if we explain to them why it is alright for some to drink.


The Word of Wisdom's complete ban on alcohol was a product of Joseph Smith's times, just like his ban on coffee and tea--and it was not even presented as commandment, but as a guideline. Its still phrased as a guideline, in fact, and interestingly it allows for wine for sacrament (communion). As we can see from all of the above, the Mormon idea that drinking is wrong for everyone all the time, period, is not Biblical at all. Jesus is the best example of that.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Living Waters University: Oscar the Mormon



I just had to share this one. I would have believed the same--any truly honest Mormon would agree with this young man. Yet it blows me away that I once believed it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The History They Don't Teach on Sundays


Mormons, how much do you know about church history? I’m sure there’s a lot you can tell me about some of it—the First Vision, the translation of the Book of Mormon, the names of some of the cities where Mormonism was based in the first couple decades such as Kirtland and Nauvoo, some of the persecutions they faced, the trip to Utah, and you’d probably end with the Salt Lake Temple taking 40 years to build. If you’ve read up a bit and have a good memory, you might even be able to tell me some dates and specifics.

Ye the average Mormon can give very little history from the time the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on. And unless you’re a Mormon apologist—perhaps not even then—the Mormon reader to whom this question is directed probably aren’t an exception to this rule. Why is that, do you think?

Was it lack of interesting history or teachings? Even brief research shows that it’s the exact opposite.

Was it lack of records? Hardly. There were scribes recording faithfully, producing multi-volume collections of sermons (e.g. the Journal of Discourses, referred to as the JoD) under the direction and approval of the leadership. Plenty of people kept journals.

Was it the kind of teachings and history going on? Most definitely.

Some of Brigham Young’s teachings, delivered from the pulpit as from God and as good as scripture (JoD 13:264) have outright been denounced, begging the question, who was right, and how can the wrong prophet be a true prophet? Either Brigham Young was right and the later prophet(s) proved to be false by denouncing God’s truths, or Brigham Young was false. Whichever was false, it potential renders all subsequent prophets false as well.

So what are these things that are hidden and denounces? Let’s look at a few. (Note: this is far from a complete list, not the least because my studies on this time period are relatively limited as yet.)

Blood Atonement


Multiple times, Brigham Young taught blood atonement from the pulpit. This is basically the idea that Jesus’ blood doesn’t’ cover all sins, so we have to have our own blood spilled to cover the most serious transgressions. Some have speculated that this is why Utah kept execution by firing squad long after every other state had abandoned it.

“Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands. … There is not a man or woman who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The Blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants.” (JoD 3:247)

“There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground. … It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit. As it was in the ancient days, so it is in our day; and though the principles are taught publicly from the stand, still the people do not understand them; yet the law is precisely the same.” (JoD 4:53-54)

Adam-God
This strange and convoluted doctrine was denounced later on, and it has been falsely denied that it was ever taught. Church published documents (primarily the JoD, still sometimes sold at Deseret) contain the doctrine.

“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, profession Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later.” (JoD 1:50)

“Some have grumbled because I believe our God to be so near to us as Father Adam. There are many who know that doctrine to be true.” (JoD 5:331)

Theocracy/Dictatorship
Brigham Young was the absolute authority in early Utah—he could even tell the women how to wear their hair. He even called himself a dictator in a few instances. His word was law, both in civil and religious matters.

Porter Rockwell, Brigham Young's bodyguard and a disreputable enforcer of Young's law.


Racism/Teachings on Blacks
Brigham Young strongly taught that darker skin color was due to a curse from God for lesser righteousness. This is reflected in the Book of Mormon when the Lamanites were cursed with darker skin because of their sinful ways. Blacks were thought to have been less valiant in the pre-existence. This doctrine did not change until the 1970’s, when social pressure and church expansion outweighed the teachings of previous prophets and the ban was lifted, becoming one of the declarations at the end of D&C.

“When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity.” (JoD 2:143)

“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. … How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon t hem, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof.” (JoD 7:290-291)

“Treat the slaves kindly and let them live, for Ham must be the servant of servants until the curse is removed. Can you destroy the decrees of the Almighty? You cannot. Yet our Christian brethren think that they are going to overthrow the sentence of the Almighty upon the seed of Ham. They cannot do that, though they may kill the by thousands and tens of thousands.” (JoD 10:250)

Strange and False Teachings
Here are some things that will make Mormons do a double take. Mormons, before you read this, remember these are church published and approved sources that these quotes originally came from. Like all the quotes above, these are from Brigham Young unless otherwise noted.

“Does the earth conceive? It does, and it brings forth. … Where did the earth come from? From its parent earths.” (JoD 6:36 Heber C. Kimball)

“…no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are.” (JoD 7:289)

“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? …when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth with it is celestialized.” (JoD 13:271)

Mountain Meadows Massacre
September 11, 2001 is not the first massacre for religion in America. On September 11, 1857, in southern Utah, approximately 120 unarmed non-Mormon men, women and children were murdered in cold blood by Mormons and Indians. This massacre of Americans by Americans was surpassed only by the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. Only one man was convicted for this horrible act, and went to his death declaring that Brigham Young had made him a scapegoat. There is much indicating that Brigham Young at least knew of the impending attack on the travelers, if not that he ordered it. See http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no98.htm for more information.



As we can see, there are many practices and teachings from this time that just plain don’t look good or sound good for the Mormon church. While they cannot be done completely away with while non-Mormons have so much reliable documentation on them, this time period is studiously untaught on Sundays. Why? Well…you tell me.

The Polygamy of Joseph Smith


A little-known face about Joseph Smith amongst the average Mormon is his polygamy. Glossing over their marital unrest and the many terrible things Joseph put her through, glowing reports of Emma's faithfulness, strength, and beauty are given, but never are his relationships with over 30 other wives mentioned.

Some Mormons may think that Smith's polygamy is even a lie, but historical evidence--grudgingly admitted by the church historians, leaders, and apologists who are confronted with it--is not lacking. Even the church-owned genealogy website, familysearch.org, lists multiple wives.

http://familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=af/search_AF.asp&clear_form=true

Marriage(s)

1 Spouse: 

Marriage: 











2 Spouse: 

Marriage: 











3 Spouse: 

Marriage: 











4 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
1842



Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






5 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
Abt 11 1843 May










6 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
17 Jan 1842



Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






7 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
18 Jan 1827



South Bainbridge, Chenango, Ny






8 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
Sealed 19 1852 Jan



Salt Lake City, Ut






9 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
26 Jan 1846










10 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
27 Oct 1841



Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






11 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
3 Feb 1846










12 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
3 Feb 1846










13 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
May 1843



Smith's Store, Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






14 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
1 May 1843



Smith's Store, Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






15 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
12 Jun 1843



Nauvoo, Illinois






16 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
29 Jun 1842



Smith's Store, Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






17 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
27 Jul 1842



Nauvoo, Hnck, Il






18 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
Aug 1842



Smith's Store, Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






19 Spouse: 


Marriage: 
20 Sep 1843



Nauvoo, Illinois






20 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
2 Nov 1843










21 Spouse: 

Marriage: 
11 Dec 1841



Smith's Store, Nauvoo, Hancock, Il






22 Spouse: 


Marriage: 











23 Spouse: 

Marriage: 











24 Spouse: 


Marriage: 









As you can see, this list is incomplete--there aren't over 30 wives on this list. But, being on the Mormon website, it does show that it is not denied by the Mormon church that he had multiple wives...and a lot of them.

Smith's polygamy in and of itself might not bother some Mormons, as it was commanded and practiced by the church for a time, the command still being scripture in D&C 132. Some of the facts about his wives would bother many Mormons, though.


One is Joseph Smith consistent denial of polygamy, both publically and privately, even as he took wife after wife. In fact, his denial became scripture for a time--a section of D&C affirmed monogamy, and was later removed when D&C 132 was made scripture. D&C 132 wasn't even given until July of 1843--look at the dates for some of the marriages above. A lot of them happened before this revelation was given.



Joseph Smith also hid his many marriages from Emma, despite D&C 132: 61 
"And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else."
Since Joseph Smith did not obtain Emma's consent for most of his polygamous marriages, he was in adultery, according to his own revelation.


Then is the fact that about a third of his wives were already married to other men. Even if his other choices in wives could be justified, this obvious adultery cannot. One such wife above was Zina Huntington--she married Henry Jacobs in March 1841 and Joseph Smith in October of the same year. Her legal husband was still living and she still lived with him. Brigham Young later married her and had her live with him instead of her legal husband, sending her husband off on missions, and she eventually rejected her legal husband in favor of polygamy.


Another third of his wives were teenagers, the youngest being Helen Kimball, not quite 15 when she married the prophet under promises of exaltation for her whole family if she would do so. While marrying this young may not have been illegal or unusual, it was illegal and unusual for him to do so with eleven girls when he already had a healthy, living legal wife.


There is also the complete contradiction between different sets of Mormon scriptures on polygamy.
Jacob 2: 24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
vs

D&C 132: 33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham. 34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. 35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.
38 David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.

Does this not seem a direct contradiction? In the Book of Mormon it is said that it was abominable for David and Solomon to have many wives and concubines. In D&C 132 (which incidentally also threatens Emma if she doesn't let Joseph Smith practice polygamy) it says that it was commanded and that those same men were not in sin!

The Bible supports the Book of Mormon, though. Although polygamy was tolerated, it was never commanded (except in the case of the marriage of a brother's wife if the brother died, which was not for the purpose of polygamy or intimate enjoyment, but for children to protect and preserve the woman and family). In almost every case of polygamy we see (Abraham, David, Solomon) we see that polygamy does not go so well. Yet these things are exactly what Joseph Smith turned around and claimed to be God's revelation and command later!

Probably most overlooked is the parts in D&C 132 which plainly state that polygamy is necessary--in fact, eternal polygamous marriage, not just eternal monogamous marriage, was the new and everlasting covenant.

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

 32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

 64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
 65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.


After all is said and done, this is what we end up with: Joseph Smith, claiming to be led by God,
  • Lied to the public
  • Lied to his wife
  • Violated even the D&C 132 polygamy guidelines
  • Opposed the Bible's teachings
  • Opposed the Book of Mormon's teachings
  • Broke civil law
  • Committed adultery
  • Caused women to commit adultery
  • Led thousands astray to do the same, and still is, as can be see by Fundamentalist polygamy and unfortunate cases such that of Warren Jeffs

What is it the Bible says about false prophets?
"By their fruits you will know them."




Eternal Marriage?

One of the most compelling Mormon teachings is that of eternal family and marriage. The idea of being with loved ones eternally is comforting and compelling. But what did Jesus say about that?

Allow me to set the stage. In Jesus' day, the Saducees did not believe in resurrection--they're "sad, you see." So some of these men get together and decided to ask Jesus a question, to either get him to agree with them or trap him.

The question was based on a part of the Law that required a man to marry his brother's wife if his brother died without giving her children. As my understanding goes, this was not for the purpose of polygamy or the man's enjoyment of multiple wives, but to protect the widow and to carry on the brother's family name by giving her children in her first husband's name.

The Saducees set up a scenario in which this type of marriage was practiced, with multiple brothers marrying a woman as each one died without given her children. They then asked Jesus which brother would be married to her after death. They were likely hoping Jesus would answer in one of a few possible ways. Either he would agree with their beliefs that there was no resurrection so that none would get her, or he'd specify a brother and they'd start throwing scenarios at him to try to prove him wrong. I supposed Jesus could have also said that all the husbands would get her, which even Mormons don't teach, and Jesus would have been rejected for saying this ad scripture never tolerated polyandry, more or less condoned or commanded it.

Instead, Jesus stumped and surprised his questions and listeners. first, he asserted that there would be no marriage in heaven, but that people would be like angels. What specifically he had in mind about angels I'm not sure, but no matter what it was, I doubt he meant that couples will be reproducing spirit children for their own planets. In fact, there is no indication anywhere that I know of that angels reproduce at all, and that being one of the main reasons for marriage in this life, it seems this function--and the covenant that makes is sacred--won't be necessary after death.

Second, he trumped the Saducees by pointing out that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that he is not the God of the dead--the logical conclusion being that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive and therefore resurrected. Not only did Jesus answer the question that he was asked, he also answered the implied question.

Let's now think about this from the Mormon perspective.

First, this story is in more than one Gospel and found in early manuscripts, making it a reliable text, so we can't claim that this part was just put in by men looking to make their own doctrine. Eternal marriage is the more pleasant teaching, so it would be less likely for them to have chosen no marriage in heaven as a doctrine to add in later, anyways. The apostle Paul's own singleness and teachings support that eternal marriage was not required by Jesus.

We can also not say that Jesus and the Saducees weren't talking about faithful Jews, either, as the Jews in this scenario were fulfilling a requirement in the Law. There was no talk of worthiness or lack thereof. A Mormon can't assume, therefore, that this applies only to those who don't make it to the Celestial Kingdom.

That limits the conclusion to exactly what Jesus intended--after death, the resurrected faithful will not be married as they are in this life. He doesn't say anything about whether we recognize or love our spouse still in heaven--I personally believe we do--he just says that marriage as we know it will end.

This means that eternal temple marriage--which incidentally was NOT practiced in the Old Testament temple--marriage for eternity, and producing spirit children are not actually either requirements or part of God's eternal plan for us.


I would also submit that focusing on marriage and family so much idolizes it and puts it above God. If being together forever with family is the main goal, then being together forever with God is not. Even a good thing can become an idol when it is put above God.


I love my husband dearly. Just seeing him come through the front door, or getting a quick kiss before one or the other of us leaves for work or whatever else we might be parting ways to do, makes me happier than any other things of this world has or could make me. But that will be absolutely eclipsed by living in the presence of God after death. I fully expect to still know and love my husband there, but our mutual focus will be on God, not each other. Many of the purposes of earthly marriage will be unnecessary at that time, anyways. Does that make me a little sad sometimes to think that I won't share the same exact relationship, or a better version if it, with my husband after death? I'd be lying if I said no. But I only feel that way because I cannot fathom the joy and love that will exist at that time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Awesome videos. Please take time to watch them. They are well thought out, and I think they have quite an impact.






Sunday, October 16, 2011

Modesty

I have issues with the Mormon ideas about and attitude towards modesty. I don't have issues with modesty itself, mind you. If I have a daughter, I certainly don't want her dressing like a hooker. But I don't want her to feel as if she's a slut if she wears a bikini to the beach like many other women, either. Modesty is a societal construct. If humanity was without sin, as it was before the fall, we'd all be naked. It wasn't until after they sinned that Adam and Eve felt shame for their nakedness, because sin had already begun to pervert sexuality and identity as male and female. The idea that God is offended by our bodies is ludicrous. Societies also change. What was immodest a century ago would certainly not be immodest now. Even Mormon standards of modesty have changed, as evidenced in the garments no longer looking like long johns. In "The Miracle of Forgiveness," I remember reading Kimball vilify women wearing shorts because showing her legs gave men temptation. Now plenty of Mormon women show off their calves. Different societies have different standards of modesty. There are many cultures today, usually in warmer climes, where women expose far more of themselves than is acceptable in America, and it is not wrong or wanton or inappropriate or anything else. There will always be perverts who see every bit of exposed sin as sexual, but if we were to always worry about that, we'd still be dressing like Victorian ladies. Part of my problem with Mormon modesty is that, because they are so behind societal standards, what is not sexual in society is sexual amongst Mormons. A girl in a bikini, exposing forbidden parts, becomes a sexual object, even if it is subconscious, yet society finds a woman in a bikini on the beach in summer perfectly natural. Men who would see her sexually would probably do so were she in jeans and a T shirt too, unless they are seeing her that way because she is being immodest in their eyes and therefore making herself a sexual object. This also means that a father or brother who have views on modesty that make socially acceptable dress sexual may see their own sisters and daughters as wearing something sexual and as making herself a sexual object, which can be terribly uncomfortable for both parties for whom that was never the intention or desire. If they saw her summer dress or bikini not as immodest but as socially normal, seeing a female family member dressed that way would not be a matter of dressing sexually anymore. I also strongly believe that modesty goes beyond a certain cross-cultural standard, as the Mormons would seem to believe. First of all, there isn't really a cross-cultural standard. And secondly, someone can meet the standard and be completely immodest and immoral in other ways, while someone can fall below the mark and be modest. For instance, a girl who never shows cleavage, leg, tummy, or shoulders could be extremely unchaste, whereas a girl simply wearing comfortable socially acceptable summer clothing and wanting a tan can be very chaste. I also believe there's a time and a place for things, mostly determined by the culture. For instance, I'd never wear short jean shorts to an interview for an office job or a bikini to church service. Both are inappropriate for those situations. But, neither of those things would be out of place on a beach. Similarly, I would probably not wear slacks and a button up shirt to a casual get-together with friends, but I'd wear it to a formal job interview. There's plenty of things to take into account with modesty, and as I said before, I definitely support modesty. Some things to consider are culture, setting, and perhaps who one is with, if wearing something in particular will be a problem for a certain person even if it wouldn't normally be for that setting, although I would also say that we shouldn't be so overly sensitive to that as to create more problems with modesty (such as making cultural norms sexual) and therefore ultimately hindering instead of helping. I certainly don't want my daughters to dress like sluts and be treated as such or my sons think women who dress and act like prostitutes are good dating material. But I also don't want to make women wearing bikinis out to be such a bad thing and then have my husband be uncomfortable if he sees any daughters we might have in a bikini. I don't want any potential sons to see a girl in a summer dress out at a street fair one summer and se he as a sexual object because they think she's immodest when really she just wants to look cute and feel comfortable. I strongly believe that is just as bad as immodesty.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are Mormons Christians--A Response to the New Era

There is an article from the New Era claiming that Mormons are Christian. Some of the claims in the article are uniformed and illogical. My response to the article is in blue italics 

 

Are Mormons Christians?

Of course we are Christians. Why would anyone say otherwise? Here are the facts.

If you live in Utah, you may be surprised. If you live where Latter-day Saints are a minority, you’ve probably heard it before—perhaps many times. But there are sincere people out there who believe the Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians. In fact, the accusation that we are not Christians is probably the most commonly heard criticism of the LDS Church and its doctrines today.
Why would anyone say such a thing? Isn’t the name of our church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Do we not worship Christ? Is not the Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ? How could anyone seriously doubt that Latter-day Saints are Christians?
A name actually means little. Anyone can call themselves whatever they want to, it doesn't make them what they claim to be. More than a name must be seen. In this case, correct beliefs and biblical behavior and organization much be seen, as fundamentally and historically a Christian is a worshiper of, follower of, and believer in Christ and what he did as he showed himself to be and was taught about by his apostles, which record exists today in the Bible.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand why some people make this accusation. Knowing that, perhaps you can be more comfortable and knowledgeable in dealing with such views when you hear them expressed. But remember that the spirit of contention is always un-Christian (see D&C 10:63). This article is meant to provide information and understanding rather than ammunition for disputes.
On the contrary, Christians should be able to contend for their faith. If Elder Robinson means heated and unloving arguments or violence, he is certainly right, but "contention" insofar as defending the faith or expounding on it, including in the face is adversity, is extremely biblical. Paul's persistence in the face of adversity and his firm ground against false teachings such as in 2 Corinthians 11, and Jesus' many conflicts with the Pharisees, are prime examples of this.
There are a number of arguments used supposedly to “prove” that we are not Christian. It is important to recognize that none of them have anything to do with whether or not Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ. Rather, what they basically boil down to is this: Latter-day Saints are different from the other Christian churches. Actually, I would say its not so much Christian churches and the Bible. I could care less what other Christian churches believe, I care what the Bible teaches, as does any other biblical Christian. (We understand that these differences exist because traditional Christianity has wandered from the truth over the centuries, but other denominations see things otherwise.) Interesting that here Robinson is effectively saying that Mormons are the only true Christians, and Christians aren't. There is also a lack of evidence for his claim when it comes to the Bible itself, though it could perhaps be made with specific denominations. The LDS leadership tend to miss this dearth of evidence, however, as lack of evidence and evidence to the contrary would argue against the point being made here. If they don't maintain this position of everyone but them holding all truth, they have no ground to stand on. Their arguments against the Latter-day Saints being Christian generally fall into six basic categories:

Exclusion by special definition

1 What is a Christian? The term is found three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16), but it is not defined in any of those passages. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the term Christian may be defined in a number of ways, but the most common is “one who believes or professes … to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth as taught by him … one whose life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ.” The second most common meaning is “a member of a church or group professing Christian doctrine or belief.”
Under either of these two definitions, Latter-day Saints qualify as Christians. Well, except for the very important part about conforming to the doctrines of Christ and the truths taught by him. That seems to be important. However, if a special definition is created under which Christian means “only those who believe as I do,” then others might claim Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians—but all this would really mean is that while Mormons believe in Christ, we don’t believe exactly as they do. Excluding us in this way by inventing a special definition for the word Christian is like defining a duck as an aquatic bird with a broad, flat bill, webbed feet, and white feathers, and then concluding that mallards aren’t ducks because their feathers are the wrong color.
If the term Christian is used, as it is in standard English, to mean someone who accepts Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and the Savior of the world, then the charge that we aren’t Christians is false. There is a danger in this argument. If anyone claims belief to Christ being the Son of God and Savior, then they can call themselves Christians under the LDS definition. Yet, there are many people that the LDS would not accept as Christian who could and have claimed to believe that. LDS are wishing to broaden the definition so that it can include them, but they are doing so in a way that includes people who they themselves would possibly deny as being Christian. However, if the word Christian is given an overly narrow definition, then it is merely a way of saying LDS Christians differ in some degree from other Christians. No one “owns” the term Christian or has the right to deny it to others who worship Jesus as the divine Son of God. Actually, we do have a right to deny it to false teachers and those who follow false teachings--these are called heretics. Christians must be careful and discerning in this, as there are some open-handed issues amongst Christians that can be disagreed on but which do not mean that one side or the other is not Christian, but Paul himself denounces those who teach falsely of Christ and his gospel as cursed (Galatians 1:8-9) and says that they will face destruction (2 Peter 2:3).

Exclusion by misrepresentation

2 Some people insist on condemning Latter-day Saints for doctrines the Saints don’t even believe. They say, in effect, “This is what you Mormons believe.” Then they recite something that is certainly not taught by the Latter-day Saints. It’s easy to make LDS beliefs seem absurd if critics can make up whatever they want and pass it off as LDS doctrine.
While is is probably done sometimes, it is rarely done intentionally and is often not done at all by those who have actually taken time to do some research and/or who were once Mormon. Mormons themselves won't be swayed by lies, so its generally pointless to use them. The truth of some of the teachings and happenings of the church, especially in the days of Brigham Young, are absurd and even disgusting enough without having to make up lies. The key is not to assume that the claim is a lie, but to double-check to see if the claims can be cited and supported.
A good example of this kind of misrepresentation took place when the subject of the Latter-day Saint pioneers came up in my daughter Sarah’s school classroom a few years ago. One of her classmates said, “My daddy says Mormons are people who live in Utah and worship idols.” Sarah quickly answered back, “Well, I’m a Mormon, and we don’t worship idols.” But many of her classmates never did believe her, largely because they had already accepted the misrepresentation.
Another form of misrepresentation is to claim something is official LDS doctrine when it may merely be an individual opinion or even speculation. The official doctrine of the Latter-day Saints is clearly defined and readily accessible to all. Doctrines are official if they are found in the standard works of the Church, if they are sustained by the Church in general conference (D&C 26:2), or if they are taught by the First Presidency as a presidency. Policies and procedures are official whenever those who hold the keys and have been sustained by the Church to make them declare them so. Other churches claim the right to define and interpret their own doctrines and policies and to distinguish between official church teachings and the opinions of individual members. Surely the Latter-day Saints must be allowed the same privilege.
Interestingly, most of the claims that the church denounces as "opinion or speculation," such as blood atonement, Adam-God, or the curse of Cain, actually do fit these qualifications. They were taught by the First Presidency in general conferences as doctrine and revelation, published for the Saints by the First Presidency's approval, and in some cases, like with polygamy, are doctrine still in D&C but no longer implemented or believed to be commanded.

Name calling

3 Name calling has often been used in religious controversies. At one time, Catholics called Protestants “heretics,” and Protestants called Catholics “papists.” But this sort of tactic amounts to nothing more than saying, “Boo for your religion, and hurrah for mine.”
The negative term most frequently flung at the LDS is “cult,” a term which can suggest images of pagan priests and rituals. But the truth is there is no objective distinction by which a cult may be distinguished from a religion. Actually, it generally can, and the LDS church tends to fit the distinctions and definitions. There are many attributes of cults that the LDS fits, such as controlling its members, having dictating leadership that is not to be questioned even when wrong, scorning or ostracizing those who leave, discouraging members from researching and asking certain questions (in the case of the Mormon church, they label such forbidden material as anti-Mormon, which ironically is also name-calling, and they strongly imply or outright say that Satan is getting a hold on the members who read or see/listen to those sorts of things). There is also the Christian extension of the use of the word cult which says that they use many of the same words, terms, and scriptures, but their main theology is vastly different and not at all biblical. Use of the term cult does not tell us what a religion is, only how it is regarded by the person using the term. It simply means “a religion I don’t like.”
Though non-LDS scholars have made many attempts to define a “cult” in a way that would distinguish it from a “religion,” to date every such attempt has failed. So far the major difficulty has been that any definition of “cult” that fits the LDS Church also fits New Testament Christianity! But that’s not bad company to be in.
The only definition of the term "cult" that both Christianity and the Mormon church fit into is the general definition that pretty much every religion is a "cult," which is not a negative use of the word. Because of the negative connotations of the actual word "cult," however, that definition is largely unused, at least in America, except in certain fields such as history.

Exclusion by tradition

4 It is sometimes argued that to be truly Christian, modern churches must accept both biblical Christianity and the traditional Christianity of later history. In other words, one must accept not just biblical doctrines, but also the centuries of historical development—the councils, creeds, customs, theologians, and philosophers—that came along after New Testament times. Since the Latter-day Saints do not accept doctrines originating in the early Church after the death of the apostles and prophets, we are accused of not being “historical” or “traditional” Christians.
In fact, we believe that revelation to the early Church stopped because of the death of the Apostles and the growing apostasy, or falling away, from the truth. In the absence of Apostles, the church eventually turned to councils of philosophers and theologians, for guidance. These councils, after lengthy debates, in turn interpreted the gospel according to their best understanding. Often they drew upon the philosophies of respected men (like Plato), concluding, for example, that God has no body or physical nature; or that the three separate persons of the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—are only one being. The declarations of these councils are still generally accepted today by traditional Christian churches as official doctrines. Yet these creeds were formulated centuries after the deaths of the Apostles and the close of the New Testament.
This is a deplorably inaccurate representation of history and of Christianity. What the LDS church misses is that those councils were gathered to define doctrine based on the Bible, not based on their own ideas, and often done so specifically to combat heresies. There is, in fact, no evidence of a great apostasy, nor any logical reason that there would have been one just because the apostles died. Those they taught, the earliest Christians, were dying for their beliefs up until the time of the creeds, and in some areas continued to die for it despite their belief being legalized. They saw those beliefs as their salvation, and strongly combated heresies because the beliefs were of the utmost importance to them. The councils merely set those beliefs in stone.
There is no denying that there was selective apostasy. The need for the councils to fight against heresies shows that obvious fact. However, a complete falling away is simply illogical and not at all historical or provable. It is a claim made by the LDS church simply because there would be no need for a "restored church" if they didn't make the claim. 
Were the Twelve Apostles Christians? Of course. But if it were true that one must accept the whole package of historical Christianity in order to be a Christian, then it would be impossible for early Christians, including Jesus and his disciples, to qualify—since they lived centuries before these traditions came to be. On the other hand, if the New Testament Saints can be considered Christians without accepting all the traditions of men that came later, then so can the Latter-day Saints, and the historical exclusion is invalid.
Accepting ALL the historical teachings is actually not a qualification for being Christian. However, many of the early church fathers expounded upon doctrine within the Bible, and helped define Christian doctrine, such as naming the biblical concept of the Trinity (which was done nearly 150 years before the first council). Not every early church father was correct in every aspect, but they were essential to the development of Christian theology BASED ON THE BIBLE, and are therefore important. However, one can become a true Christian without knowing about them, as their accepted teachings are in the Bible and it is belief in Christ as he is taught about in the Bible and what he did as explained in the Bible that saves, because only Christ is the way, the truth, and the life...not the church fathers.

The canonical or biblical exclusion

5 The term “canon of scripture” refers to the collection of books accepted by any group as the authoritative word of God. For most Christians the canon of scripture is limited to the Bible. But Latter-day Saints have a larger canon of scripture that includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The canonical exclusion, in its simplest form, says that since Latter-day Saints have books of scripture in addition to the “traditional” Christian Bible, they cannot be Christians.
One of the problems with this canonical exclusion lies in the assumption that there is only one “traditional” Christian Bible. Over the centuries, there have been a number of different versions of the Bible, and many Christian churches and individuals have disagreed about which books should be included. Even today, the Bible used by Catholics contains a number of different books than the Bible used by Protestants. Yet Catholics and Protestants continue to call each other Christians—even though they have different canons of scripture.
First of all, different versions of the Bible do not necessarily make the Bible non-"traditional." The different versions exist for different reasons, and most of them are good reasons. For instance, for a while the Bible was only available in Latin, which only priests and highly educated people, such as noble men, could read, so the masses were excluded. This led to the Bible eventually being put into English--thus a different version of the Bible than the "traditional" version of that time. Yet, no one can reasonably argue that this is a bad reason for a different version. The King James Version was used for quite a while, but as our language is no longer spoken like it was in the time of King James, and as more ancient copies and fragments of the Bible have been found to help make the Bible even more clear and accurate where it wasn't necessarily before because only later manuscripts were available, the need for new translations became obvious. There are good translations and bad translations, but it doesn't take much research to find out which is which, and all of them teach the same doctrines and contain the same stories, parables, books, etc., which is what is essential to the Bible. I could quote one version of a verse, and you another, and the meaning of the verses would be the same if taken from any good translation.
Second, the Catholic church includes the apocrypha in their canon, which most other Christians don't because the apocrypha isn't generally considered inspired or prophetic, as they come from the "quiet" period between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus. It is the decision of the Catholic church to use those books, and they are certainly not wrong for Christians to study, but their status as actual scripture is questionable and not widely accepted. Beyond that, the canon of the Catholic church and the Protestants is the same.
When revelation stopped after the death of the early Apostles, people were forced to draw one of two conclusions: (1) either revelation had stopped because God had already said everything they would ever need, or (2) revelation had stopped because the church lacked apostles and prophets to speak for him. Traditional Christians accept the first explanation; Latter-day Saints accept the second.
Sometimes critics cite Revelation 22:18–19 [Rev. 22:18–19] as evidence that the Bible forbids adding to or taking away from the canon of scripture. In these verses, John curses those who would add to or take away from “this book.” But when John wrote Revelation, the Bible in its present form did not yet exist. He was simply referring to his own book, the Book of Revelation, rather than to the whole Bible.
The truth is that prophets have usually added to the scriptures—almost all the biblical apostles and prophets did this. There is, in fact, no biblical statement whatever closing the canon of scripture or prohibiting additional revelation or additional scripture after the New Testament.
There is the fact that God inspired John (the author of Revelation, the final book of the Bible) to write that in the book, knowing it would become the final book of the Bible. There is also the fact that the Bible begins with the beginning and ends with the end to consider. It is a complete story. Everything in between the beginning and the end is centered on Christ--the Old Testament looks forward to Christ, and the New Testament looks at Christ and then looks back at Christ, which we are still doing today. Once Christ came, he fulfilled the Law and the prophets (the old covenant), which was the Old Testament, and established his new covenant through his atonement, which is the New Testament. We still are living in that New Covenant, and need nothing more from Christ than that. The need for anything more is simply not there.
This does not mean that revelation has ceased, as the gift of prophecy is one of the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. However, the need for further scripture is not there. There are no current situations which the Bible cannot speak to, and we have the revelation of salvation within the Bible. Any prophecy through the gift given by the Spirit is meant to edify and guide the church (1 Corinthians chs 12-14), not to be an office exclusive to a single leader or to be made into additional scripture.
Some non-LDS Christians believe that the Bible contains all religious truth. However, the Bible itself says nothing of the sort. The word Bible never appears in the Bible—for the Bible never refers to itself. Thus all these claims about the Bible are unbiblical. The Bible itself never claims to be perfect, never claims to be sufficient for salvation, and never claims to grant its readers authority to speak or act for God. Rather, such claims are made by those who have lost priesthood authority and have lost direct revelation and, instead of trying to find them again, are trying desperately to maintain that their loss doesn’t matter.
Obviously, Elder Robinson had not closely read the Bible as he made these claims. Let's look at a few scriptures that put a little doubt on his words.
Matthew 24:35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 
Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
 
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
 
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
 
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
 
2 Timothy 3:15
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
 
Obviously, the Bible itself--Jesus himself--says that scripture is God-breathed, alive and active, enduring, and contains the gospel. The simple question, what is the gospel (the good news), is answered here:
1 Corinthians 15: 2-4
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 
The Bible contains these all-important teachings for salvation...obviously. Understanding and accepting this gospel is necessary for salvation. The bible teaches that it is through faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Bible presents the gospel. Salvation is therefore completely contained in the Bible, if the reader or hearer of the truth believes it.
As for the question of priesthood, Christ is the only High Priest. The High Priests before Christ were charged with sacrificing animals for the sins of all the people one day of the year, the Day of Atonement, but that sacrifice couldn't actually cleanse sins, it was a representation of the future sacrifice of Christ. When Christ sacrificed himself, he became the High Priest. Since his Spirit is in us and we live our lives dead to the world and alive in Christ as such, we become a royal and holy priesthood through Christ. To examine this, I would urge someone to take a look at the book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 4-8, although the whole book would be best. 1 Peter 2 and the first chapter of Revelation refer to believers as a holy/royal priesthood, and there is no exclusion based on age, gender, or "worthiness." In truth, it is the LDS that lack a true priesthood and are desperately trying to claim otherwise.

The doctrinal exclusion

6 This type of argument claims that since the Latter-day Saints do not always interpret the Bible as other Christians do, we must not be Christians. But, in fact, other denominations also differ among themselves doctrinally, and it is unreasonable to demand that Latter-day Saints conform to a single standard of “Christian” doctrine when no such single standard exists.
Minor disagreements exist. Only salvific doctrines on the Bible, which ARE clear, must be agreed upon. Some of these doctrines include the nature of God, monotheism, the nature of Christ, Christ's atonement on the cross, and salvation. The Mormon church obviously do not agree on these essential doctrines, more or less the minor issues.
For example, the Latter-day Saints are accused of worshiping a “different god” because we do not believe in the traditional Trinity. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (A of F 1:1) as taught in the New Testament. What Latter-day Saints do not believe is the non-Biblical doctrine formulated by the councils of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451) centuries after the time of Jesus—the doctrine that God is three coequal persons in one substance or essence. We do not believe it because it is not scriptural. As Harper’s Bible Dictionary states: “The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”
The doctrine of the Trinity actually is Biblical, it is the word Trinity that is not to be found in the New Testament. References for the concept of the Trinity include John 1:1, 14, 18, Phillippians 2:6-11, and many many others. Christ's name Immanuel actually means "God with us." There are many instances in the gospels of Jews, who believe there is only one God and he alone is to be worshiped according to the ten commandments, worshiped Jesus. After doubting Thomas made certain that Jesus really was back from the dead, he called Jesus "my God," and Jesus accepted the title. Jesus also stated that those who had seen him had seen the father. Jesus calls himself by the divine name "I AM" multiple times in the gospels, particularly throughout John (John 8:58, for instance). This is the reason that the leaders of the Jews wished to stone him and kill him more than once, because they understood he was saying he was God (John 5:18). There is also the simple fact of monotheism. If there is only one God, which the Bible is emphatic on (Isaiah 43:10, which exists in the Dead Sea Scrolls from before the supposed great apostasy) then Christ cannot be equal to God or claim to be a god without claiming to be the one and only God. The Bible, such as John 1:18, says that Jesus is that one and only God.
Jesus didn’t teach the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity. The New Testament writers didn’t have any idea of it. The New Testament writers actually did worship Jesus as God and refer to him as God (2 Peter 1:1, 1 John 5:20, Colossians 2:9). Considering their monotheism...well, we've already been over that. The doctrine itself wasn’t invented until centuries later. So one can’t say the Latter-day Saints are not true Christians for not accepting it, unless one also excludes Jesus, his disciples, and the New Testament Church, who similarly did not know or teach it.
Latter-day Saints do believe that God the Father has a physical body. This view is attacked as “non-Christian” by critics who often cite John 4:24, which states in the King James version that “God is a spirit.” However, since there is no indefinite article (a, or an) in the Greek language from which this verse is translated, the consensus among biblical scholars is that there should not be an indefinite article at John 4:24. It should simply read “God is spirit.” In other words, this scripture does not limit God to being only a spirit, but merely includes spirit as one of his attributes. After all, we also read that “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5) and “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), and yet no one interprets these verses to mean that God is only light, or God is only love. Certainly, the member of the Godhead called the Holy Ghost is spirit, but that fact tells us nothing about whether or not God the Father has a physical body.
This argument is flawed, as it implies that since being spirit is not his ONLY attribute, that he is not a spirit. That would be akin to saying that since being love is not his ONLY attribute, that he is not love. In fact, it also seems flawed to limit God to a body just because we have bodies. It seems that God could choose what he is or how he presents himself. Additionally, his ability to be present everywhere at once would be impossible in a body such as ours, though it seems the LDS diminish this in God and assign it exclusively to the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, while the Bible makes distinction between God and the Spirit, it is interesting to note that the Spirit is referred to as God's spirit. I would not refer to my spirit and mean something that was not me, so I do not understand why the LDS refer to the Spirit of God and do not mean it to be God, but rather a separate being altogether.
Finally, quite often we hear that Latter-day Saints are not Christians because true Christians believe in salvation by grace, while the Latter-day Saints believe in salvation through our own good works. But this is a misunderstanding. Yes, Latter-day Saints do believe we must serve God with all our “heart, might, mind, and strength” (D&C 4:2). But the Book of Mormon makes perfectly clear that it is impossible for us to completely earn or deserve our blessings from God (Mosiah 2:21, 24); that redemption can never come through individual effort alone, but only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (2 Ne. 2:3, 5–8); and that—after all we can do (Alma 24:11)—we are saved by grace (2 Ne. 10:24; 2 Ne. 25:23).
There it is..."after all we can do." That is impossible according to the scriptures and to logic, since we never can do all we can do, for one. If this merely means that after all of our failed efforts to do all we can do, the grace of God kicks in, there is still a flaw. Isaiah 64:6 says that all of our works are as filthy rags, so relying on filthy rags--a better translation would be menstrual rags (think bloody tampon, gross)--in addition to the saving and perfect work and grace of Jesus Christ seems absolutely ridiculous. 
Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 
If we boast in what we ourselves have done BEFORE grace, then we are taking credit from Jesus Christ. We are not supposed to be able to do that. Boasting of filthy rags doesn't seem like much to boast about, after all. Instead, Christians belief that we are saved by faith alone, through grace along, through Christ alone (justification), but that we are saved from sins to a new life through the Spirit (sanctification). The changes in a person may not be quick, and none of us will ever be perfect in this life because we still have our sinful nature to combat, but there will be a change and will be spiritual fruits such as those described in Galatians 5. We do not expect to have to obtain this alone, or have the help of the Spirit only when we are doing everything right and are in full and constant repentance, as the Mormon church teaches. Instead, the Spirit dwells in us (John 14:17, Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:22, 2 Timothy 1:14) and there is no indication in scripture that it will leave believers. Through the Spirit, we live in Christ.
Christ did all the work for us. While we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10) they do not save us. We will be receive reward and punishment based on our works, but only our faith in Christ determines our actual salvation. For instance, someone who goes to hell who was a good person will be punished far less than someone who was a murdered, and someone who goes to heaven but was not receptive to the work of the Spirit in their lives will not be rewarded as richly as someone who sought to live out their beliefs throughout their Christian life. However, because of the nature of being forgiven or not forgiven based on belief in Christ is the prerequisite for heaven and hell, works themselves do not determine whether someone goes to heaven or goes to hell, as opposed to Mormon belief where a combination of works and belief determines the kingdom of heaven a person is placed into.

Conclusion

We have discussed arguments some people use for claiming that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. Notice that not one of these addresses the question of whether we accept Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and Savior. Our critics don’t address this—the only issue that really matters—for the LDS position here is an unassailable matter of record. Our first article of faith [A of F 1:1] declares our belief in Jesus Christ. We meet every Sunday and partake of the sacrament to renew our faith in and our commitment to Him as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
I have frequently asked non-LDS critics exactly which Book of Mormon teachings about Jesus Christ they disagree with. Invariably the response has been that it isn’t what the Book of Mormon says that is offensive to them—it is the Book of Mormon itself. This is because most non-Christian LDS doctrines aren't contained in the Book of Mormon, and in fact borrows heavily from the Bible. We have issues with the Book of Mormon itself because it is a deceptive gateway into the religion for converts and because it is a book of fiction purported as scripture. Its historical reliability is deplorable, and much of it has been proven simply untrue, such as Native Americans descending from Lamanites. To present it as ancient scripture from prophets when it clearly isn't is deceptive and takes away from the completeness of the Bible. Most anti-Mormons reject the LDS scriptures without knowing or caring what those scriptures actually teach about Christ. You see, it isn’t really the LDS doctrine of Christ that is objectionable; rather, it is the claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is God’s word, and that the gospel has been restored to the earth in the latter days.
Both the Book of Mormon as scripture and Joseph Smith as a prophet bear witness to Jesus Christ as Savior. The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price bear that same great witness, as do all of the modern prophets and apostles. Though all the world may say that Latter-day Saints do not know or love or worship Jesus Christ, the truth is that we do. If this is not enough to be counted as Christian, then that word has lost its meaning.

(http://lds.org/new-era/1998/05/are-mormons-christians?lang=eng)